August 26, 2013, 6:10 AM — More than most technology companies, Apple lives and dies by how well it delivers innovative electronics, software and services. The company has weathered many ups and downs in the course of its history, but since 1998, Apple has been recognized as being bold, innovative and successful.
Those were the days between Steve Jobs' return and his death, in 2011.
Since Tim Cook took the helm, Apple has stumbled. Its stock peaked at over $700 in September 2012 and has spent much of 2013 down around $400, only recently moving to $500 territory. There's been a lot of criticism of the company by media, analysts and the financial community some of it warranted. Over the last two years, Apple's biggest new products have been the iPhone 5, the iPad Mini and the Retina MacBook Pro. The Retina display aside, they're all derivative and either play catch-up or, in the case of the iPhone 5, lag behind in both worldwide market share and leap-forward product innovation.
What's more, 2013 has been mighty thin in terms of Apple product launches. You have to go back to 2005 to find a year with fewer new hardware releases. (Beginning in January 2006 and throughout that year, the company released new Intel-based versions of all of its Macs.)
So, has Apple lost its mojo? Has it run out of innovative ideas? I believe that what we're witnessing this year is the end of the pipeline of in-the-works projects from the Jobs era. To be sure, there are plenty of other test-tube ideas Apple is developing that Jobs had a hand in. There has been a delay in 2013, but it's understandable. The first six months under a new CEO must have been a time of uncertainty for Apple employees. It gave them pause. Cook is nothing like Jobs, and that had to affect Apple's corporate culture. It's this adjustment period that resulted in a slow 2013.